Along with things that are good, there are definitely some things to avoid when setting up your website. Here are a few that I think top the list. If you'd like a copy of this to keep and refer to later, grab a free PDF here.
First things first:
Auto Play Music
Music is a fantastic addition to the mood and experience of viewing photos. However, the option to listen is better than blasting your viewer from the get-go. People might be in a quiet place, at work, etc. and if your site launches into a rock ballad at full volume, your potential client is going leave, and fast.
Avoid slideshows that are long. Say, more than 15 images. You want to entice folks to explore out your site and portfolio rather than waiting through a timed slideshow for more than 30 seconds or so. Building momentum and excitement is an important part of walking your client through your website without them losing interest.
Avoid them. We all make the occasional mistake. (If you find something here on my site, please notify me!). But an overlooked typo and a site that's barely been looked over are very different. You are a professional. Make sure your website is professional, too.
Important things that are hard to find
Make the things you want people to see EASY TO FIND. If you’re highlighting a particular product, make sure it’s front and center, not at the bottom of the second page or in tiny print somewhere.
Avoid continuity errors with style, tone and the general feel of your site. One great way to do this is to pick one or two fonts only, and one or two colors, and build from there. It’s easy to get too busy, or font-y, or colorful. Limiting yourself is a great way to dial things in and keep things simple. There’s a lot of variation you can achieve with just a couple of fonts, including side, lowercase, all caps, italic, bold, etc. and still remain on-brand.
There are a lot of items that go into a great site. Some of the templates and resources out there are really helpful, but make sure your human eyes and intuition are scanning your storefront for errors and inconsistencies, too. If you're interested in diving into setting up your website on a deeper level, you might like CCC. Not only is CCC a useful strategy for creatives, but the set-up module takes a deep-dive into website set-up and maintenance!